Love beyond the sheets – Exploring our relationship with love, sex and intimacy

Love beyond the sheets – Exploring our relationship with love, sex and intimacy

What would happen if we considered the possibility that the relationship we have with love, sex and intimacy was not true?

What if love could exist between anyone, regardless of his or her sexuality or gender?

Questioning my sexuality and discovering that love had nothing to do with gender was a bizarre and profound moment. Having spent a lifetime thinking I was a gay man, I was shocked when I realised I was in love with a woman.

My previous experience of being with a woman wasn’t exactly something to write home about – a few awkward moments, some uncomfortable conversations, and before long it was clear that I was destined for a life as a gay man. Yet here I was, 12 years later, feeling things that I had only ever felt in my relationships with men, except this time round it was with a woman. It’s understandable that I was feeling a little confusion.

After mustering up the courage, I shared my predicament with a group of straight male friends, and it wasn’t long before one of them set me straight – so to speak. “You’re either into it or you’re not,” he said, “it’s as simple as that”. And he was right; there wasn’t an ounce of me that wanted to have sex with a woman, so why all the confusion?

As men, we have a tendency to confuse the differences between intimacy, love and sex, bundling them all together and confining ourselves to only experiencing love and intimacy within the context of our sexual relationships. From a young age we are told that there is a very clear line that says if you love someone, and that someone is not a part of your family, then there is probably going to be sex involved. But what if this is not true? What if the idea that love = sex, or that intimacy = sex, is something that keeps us from truly knowing the power of relationships?

True Love is not dramatic, emotional or lustful, it’s forever steady, supportive and expanding. Intimacy is simply the extension of this love, an expression that honours that connection, but does not impose anything upon it.

Breaking free of the mentality that love can only exist in the confines of a sexual relationship can be profoundly freeing.

Opening to the possibility that love can be deeper and more intimate than any sexual relationship, is one of the keys in developing truly supportive and loving relationships.

When we make a commitment to ourselves, to always love, honour, support, nurture and take care of ourselves, only then can we develop relationships that hold these same qualities.

So, where did that notion come from? Where did the idea that love must equate to sex originate? Certainly we could look to a number of socially constructed ideals and beliefs, but ultimately we have our own free will, so is it possible that these restrictions are something that we have chosen to place on ourselves?

Men often hold a deep belief within themselves that they need to do things alone, that if they truly open up to another then they equally open themselves to the possibility that they will be attacked – that someone could use their vulnerability against them, let them down, walk away or leave. We are so convinced that if we only show parts of ourselves and hold parts back then we will be safe and protected. What if this belief was a lie?

Often we are fooled by this illusion, bouncing between partners or vices for a fix , thrill or relief. Too often we give up on love, forgo intimacy, and settle for sex, or even less: porn, masturbation, video games and social media. Is this really the sort of life we thought we’d lead when we were boys growing up, thinking about being in the world?

Imagine what the world could be like if we were able to say, “you know I love you?” and mean it with the same tenderness and depth as we would with a lover, but say it without an ounce of sexual intent or investment in an outcome. Imagine if men could say this to other men, women to other women, fathers to sons, mothers to daughters: there would be love-making happening everywhere and we wouldn’t even be touching.

Relationships that hold honest connection at the forefront and let love and intimacy stand-alone without the need for sex produce relationships that are truly full of love. We can build honest relationships with all of those around us and it doesn’t need to be between the sheets.

True love is available to us all.

Filed under

LoveRelationshipsSexIntimacy

  • By Martin Gladman